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Godspell: The 40th Anniversary Celebration – (1971–2011)

Godspell: The 40th Anniversary Celebration – (1971–2011)



A Glance Back Forty Years to the Creation of Godspell It was a chilly evening in March, 1971. The original version of Godspell, conceived and directed by John-Michael Tebelak and with a cast of students from Carnegie-Mellon University, was playing off-off-Broadway at Café La Mama. Stephen Schwartz, who had recently also been a student at Carnegie-Mellon, was deeply and pleasantly impressed. He consented that night to supply a musical score in anticipation of the proposed move of the show to a larger venue. Godspell already had a little music, some from the Episcopal Hymnal, some written by the band or cast members, but it wasn’t structured as a musical until Schwartz reshaped it for the May opening off-Broadway. He wrote new music for the hymns, set parts of the play’s text, and added songs of his own. (One of the original songs, “By My Side,” by cast member Peggy Gordon and her CMU friend Jay Hamburger, was so effective it was never replaced.) The new show was a hit, and the Original Off-Broadway Cast Album was recorded – not in the traditional “musical theatre” fashion, but as a pop album. Not only did Godspell win the Grammy® for Best Show Recording, but it “crossed over” and became a Billboard-charted best seller. Bell Records released the song “Day by Day” as a single, and it climbed into the top ten – one of the very few times since the early ’60s that a hit single has come directly from a cast recording. The records helped to make Godspell an even bigger hit. A movie version was made (though it was difficult to translate such a theatrical and audience-interactive work to the screen), and soon there were as many as ten companies playing the show simultaneously around the United States. Additional productions were mounted in London, Paris, Australia, South Africa, and Germany. Forty years later, Godspell is still performed in theatres, schools, and churches all over the world. Stephen Schwartz remembers the genesis of Godspell in his liner notes in the album booklet of this new 40th Anniversary release.


David Haskell Stephen Nathan Robin Lamont Gilmer McCormick Joanne Jonas Lamar Alford Herb Braha Peggy Gordon Jeffrey Mylett Sonia Manzano Steve Reinhardt Richard LaBonte Jesse Cutler Victor Garber Lynne Thigpen Jerry Sroka Katie Hanley Keyboards: Steve Reinhardt, Paul Shaffer, Stephen Schwartz Harp: Corky Hale Acoustic and Lead Guitar, Bass: Jesse Cutler Rhythm Guitar, Bass: Richard LaBonte Bass: Steve Manes Guitar: Don Thomas Trombones: Wayne Andre, Mickey Gravine, Allen Raph Strings: Elliot Rosoff, Irving Spice, Bira Haas, Norman Carr, Lou Stone, Anahid Ajemian Timpani: George Devins Drums, Percussion: Ricky Shutter Musical Arrangement and Direction by Stephen Schwartz